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Top Notch Executive Resumes: Creating Flawless Resumes for Managers, Executives, and CEOs

Top Notch Executive Resumes: Creating Flawless Resumes for Managers, Executives, and CEOs

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Top Notch Executive Resumes: Creating Flawless Resumes for Managers, Executives, and CEOs

5/5 (1 rating)
392 pages
3 hours
Jul 15, 2008


Branded resumes that illuminate the candidate's unique value proposition and ROI are a must in today's quest for the executive suite. Top Notch Executive Resumes not only explains how to integrate branding into career-marketing communication, but also how to craft resumes that address your fit with the organization's mission and meet an employer's specific business needs. Hansen instructs high-level professionals in framing past accomplishments so that the employer can visualize the executive's strategic vision and industry insights, as well as what he or she can contribute.

Highlights of the book include:

  • A huge collection of resume samples in cutting-edge formats, organized by profession for easy navigability.
  • Examples of a wide variety of complementary documents—including leadership profiles and executive bios—that top-level professionals need to round out their executive portfolios.
  • Special additional features, including the preferences and peeves of hiring decision-makers, guidelines for working with recruiters, frequently asked questions, and case studies detailing complete job-search marketing campaigns.
Let Top Notch Executive Resumes get you into that corner office!
Jul 15, 2008

About the author

Katharine Hansen is an instructor and creative director of Quintessential Careers, one of the most popular job-search sites. She holds a Ph.D. in organizational behavior and the certifications Master Resume Writer and Credentialed Career Master from Career Masters Institute/The Career Management Alliance. Hansen owned and served as chief writer for a resume-writing service for five years and was previously writer-editor at numerous newspapers, magazines, and nonprofit organizations. Hansen has published several books on cover letters, networking, and writing skills.

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Top Notch Executive Resumes - Katharine Hansen


The Executive Difference

If the next step in your career is an executive, senior-level, or C-level position, this book will show you how to craft a resume that befits that upward mobility.

The next position you seek may be:

Chief Executive Officer

Chief Financial Officer

Chief Information Officer

Chief Marketing Officer

Chief Operations Officer

Customer Service Manager

Director of Operations

Director of Sales

District Manager

Division Manager/Director

Executive Director

Executive Sales Manager

Executive VP

First VP

General Manager

Human Resources Director

Information Systems Director

Logistics Manager

MIS Director

National Sales Manager

Operations Manager


Production Manager

Regional Manager

Second VP

Security Director

Senior VP

Telecommunications Director

VP, Business Development

VP, Finance

VP, Manufacturing

VP, Marketing

VP, Operations

VP, Production

If you’ve reached this prestigious level, chances are good that you are a mature job-seeker whose resume may have its roots in a time when resumes were very different from today’s career-marketing documents. Your resume may have served you well in the past, but now you may find that it isn’t working for you. Resumes have evolved, largely driven by technology, far beyond the what-I-did-and-where-and-when-I-did-it format of old. Today, resumes are keyword-driven and accomplishments-driven, especially at executive levels. The writing must be sharp, powerful, hard-hitting, and targeted.

You may be a top-level job-seeker who hasn’t needed a resume for years because you’ve been headhunted into your jobs or found them through networking. For any number of reasons, this trend ends, and you find that you’re suddenly being asked for your resume. And you probably need to start fresh with your resume rather than trying to dust off and patch up an old one.

If you’re in one of these situations—or any other in which you need a resume fit for your executive or senior-level status, this book will guide you.

The first concept to master is how an executive resume differs from one for a lower-level position. An executive resume:

Positions the job-seeker within the market at a new level of seniority and prestige. Your executive resume must show that you are ready for top-level jobs. It must distinguish you from middle managers and demonstrate that you’ve arrived. It must also show growth and progression, and differentiate you from your former career incarnation. It must make a clear case for how you are qualified to move up. If you seek a top position at a public company, stockholders will have high performance expectations, and your resume must show you can meet them.

Presents the candidate in a way that clearly reveals his or her competitive advantage. With each resume, the employer will be asking, Why you, over any other candidate? What will we gain from hiring you? Your resume must clearly answer those questions. It’s not enough to be qualified for the positions you seek; you must portray yourself as the best qualified, the only logical choice, the one the organization will truly benefit form bringing on board.

Illuminates the executive’s unique value proposition and return on investment (ROI). The employer also wants to how you will add value in the open position. Especially if the employer is hiring through a search firm, the decision-makers will spend significant dollars to fill the position, so they want to know what their ROI will be.

Pointedly addresses how the candidate fits the organization’s mission and can meet an employer’s specific, compelling business need. The executive resume should go beyond showing your qualifications by demonstrating that you truly understand the organization you seek to join. You comprehend its needs, its issues, its mission, its customers, its future, and more, and you can meet the needs based on your unique understanding.

Frames past accomplishments in a way that enables the employer to visualize the executive’s strategic vision and industry insights, as well as what he or she can contribute going forward. The hiring manager needs to be able to picture exactly what you can bring to the organization, and one of the best ways to evoke that picture is by vividly showing the results and accomplishments you’ve achieved in your past jobs. The employer needs to be able to see how you’ve strategically approached problems and challenges in past positions, what action you’ve taken, and the results you’ve attained. The top part of your resume also needs to show how you envision being a mover and a shaker, and making a difference for your next employer. Your full resume should convey that you can generate ideas, strategically plan their implementation, and motivate others to execute them.

Here’s how this book can help you build a resume that will meet those executive requirements:

If you read nothing beyond Chapter 1 of this book, you will have learned the most important aspects of an executive resume, as encapsulated in the acronym FABUKA: Focus, Accomplishments, Branding, Uniqueness, Keywords, Appearance.

Chapter 2 describes each resume component—the must-includes and the optional sections—covers the details of building an effective top-level resume, and answers frequently asked questions.

In Chapter 3, you will learn about additional documents you need—from cover letters to portfolios—to market yourself.

The opinions and resume preferences that count the most—from hiring decision-makers—are covered in Chapter 4.

Chapter 5 focuses on important allies for the executive job-seeker—executive recruiters—and their resume needs.

Three case studies that highlight situations executive job-seekers frequently encounter comprise Chapter 6.

The meat of the book, 34 resume and cover-letter samples from most industry sectors, appears in Chapter 7.

The Appendix contains additional resources, including a guide for brainstorming accomplishments, along with helpful books, Websites, and information about executive resume writers.

I should note that crafting a resume is an exceedingly subjective proposition. Even among experts and veteran hiring decision-makers, you will be hard-pressed to find 100-percent agreement on any guideline on resume-writing, including those in this book. And if you show a resume—including the samples in this book—to those with hiring power, many will be attracted to it, but some won’t. Add to this lack of consensus the fact that technology continues to change the concept of the resume, and it’s easy to wonder which advice is authoritative. I have drawn on 18 years of experience in the career-development field, my experience as a professional resume writer, and my credentials as a Master Resume Writer in distilling the current wisdom on resume writing. More importantly, I’ve talked with many recruiters, human-resources directors, and other hiring decision-makers to research this book. Although consensus was hard to find, I am confident that I have reported on the range of current opinions. Ultimately, you, as the executive candidate, will have some decisions to make about your resume. It is, after all, a document that reflects your own personal tastes even as it attempts to appeal to those with the power to hire you.

Consider also experimenting. If your resume doesn’t seem to be working for you, use this book to diagnose its problem or hire a professional to critique it. As discussed in Chapter 2, you will probably need several versions of your resume, but you may be able to narrow down your versions by determining which techniques are working best for you.

Though the resume is just one component in the executive job-search toolkit, it’s one you are likely to need in a climate in which ExecuNet’s 15th Annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report (www.execunet.com/r_download_intelligence.cfm?pid=ASUVX7&reflink=right_get_selected_outtakes) notes that executives change employers every three years on average, and nearly half are currently in a job search. ExecuNet found that executive job dissatisfaction begins as early as 10 months into a job and peaks at the 14-month mark. It’s also a high-opportunity environment, ExecuNet reports, in which baby boomer retirements and a shrinking candidate pool have resulted in a shortage of qualified high-level talent. Skills especially in demand, the report says, include managing and developing teams, recruiting talent, retaining key reports, growing revenue, and establishing vision and strategy.

In the face of an executive climate that has moved from pre-1990s stability, through the instability of downsizing and restructuring, and now to a restlessness that spurs greater executive mobility than ever before, executives are stepping up their responsibility for their own career management. Resumes are a big part of that.

Amid technological upheaval, job-seeking continues to evolve, with some predicting the ultimate demise of the resume. For the foreseeable future, however, the resume remains the linchpin of the job search, because it’s the piece that gets the ball rolling. Sure, people get jobs without resumes, especially at the executive level, but that’s a rare occurrence. And given rapid, unexpected changes, such a restructurings, mergers, and buyouts, it’s wise to always have an updated resume ready at all times. Let’s get started on everything you need to craft your topnotch executive resume.

Chapter One

FABUKA: The Most Important Aspects of the Executive Resume

Most people find the idea of creating a resume overwhelming. Even the notion of revamping an existing resume can be daunting. Whereas Chapter 2 offers all the detailed nuts and bolts, this chapter assures you that, if you can nail six key aspects of today’s executive resume, you will be off to a great start. These are the most important concepts of executive resume writing, and understanding these and the reasons behind them will enable you to undergird your resume with a firm foundation. The philosophy behind these concepts can then pervade your entire resume, making it a winner. The bottom line is that, if you read no further than this chapter, you will have mastered the ingredients of an executive resume that gets results.

If you can remember the acronym FABUKA, you can remember the key aspects of an effective executive resume.

FABUKA stands for:

Let’s look at each element individually.


Your resume must target your desired career goal with precision. Job-seekers tend to forget that employers review resumes extremely quickly—often in just a few seconds. An employer taking such a quick glance should be able to immediately grasp what you want to do and have a sense of the value you can contribute to the organization. The executive resume must focus on key strengths that position the candidate to meet a specific need and target specific jobs/employers. In other words, employers don’t consider resumes that aren’t focused on a job’s specific requirements to be competitive, and the one-size-fits-all resume is especially ineffective at the executive level. Employers and recruiters expect your resume to be precisely tailored to the position for which you’re applying. The reader should be able to tell, at a glance, exactly what job you’re targeting and what need you will fill. The reader should never have to guess or wade through copious text to determine what job you want and what you’d be good at. An unfocused resume is a time-waster for the employer.

What are some ways you can sharpen your focus?

1. A headline atop your resume stating the type of job you seek, as in these examples:


4000 Gopher Road, Reno, NV 89511-8698 • Phone: 555-000-4497 • Cell: 555-000-6438 FAX: 555-000-4498 • E-mail: jobseeker@gol.com



12 Ridge Drive • Fairfax, VA 22033-4630 • Phone: 555.000.3940

E-mail: jobseeker@cs.com



2000 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

Phone: 555.000.2945 • Cell: 555.000.5981

E-mail: jobseeker@yahoo.com


2. A branding statement that positions you for a specific job or type of job. (See the Branding section that follows.) Note that headlines and branding statements are often used in combination.

3. An objective statement. Objective statements have lost some popularity in favor of headlines and branding statements and must be effectively worded when used. (See the section on Objective Statements in Chapter 2.)

4. A Qualifications Summary or Professional Profile section. This increasingly popular resume component contains three to five bullets that represent your top selling points. Choose bullet points that directly tie your strengths to the requirements of the job you seek. (See more about these sections in Chapter 2.)

5. Use of the targeted employer’s name in the foregoing resume elements. What could make your resume more focused than using the name of the employer? For example, one of the job-seekers whose resume appears as a sample in Chapter 7 seeks a position with a company called SolarBright and makes the following statement atop his resume:

Eager to lead innovative strategic marketing and operational initiatives that aggressively increase SolarBright’s market share, sustain growth, and maximize profitability.

6. A section listing your Core Competencies/Proficiencies/Areas of Expertise. The keywords you select for this section should relate directly to the type of job you seek. (Read more in the Keywords section that follows and in Chapter 2.)

7. Strategic organization of your resume to position you for the job you seek. Remember that a resume is a marketing document that should highlight the aspects of your experience that best sell you for a particular position. In most cases, employers and recruiters want to see clear progression to where you are today. If your career path does not represent a clear trajectory to the position you seek, however, you may want to consider a non-chronological arrangement of your experience, keeping in mind that such organizational schemes can carry an element of risk (See the Organizational Formats section of Chapter 2). You may also consider placing other sections of your resume before your Experience section to showcase your best selling points. For example, do you have a newly minted MBA degree that adds value to your candidacy?

8. Bullet points describing your experience in a way that is specifically tailored to the position you seek. You’ve undoubtedly held jobs that encompassed a broad scope, many accountabilities, and numerous achievements. Fine-tune these to a razor-sharp list of those that are most relevant to the high-level job you seek next. Eliminate any bullet point that fails to support what you seek to do next.

9. Create multiple versions of your resume. You’re probably thinking that the foregoing list means you need to craft a distinctive resume for every job for which you apply. And, yes, that’s the ideal. But you can create boilerplate versions for various types of jobs and then make small changes to customize each to specific positions. One client of mine, for example, was interested in operations management, project management, and quality management, and asked me to prepare a resume for each type of position. He then had the option of tailoring each of those to specific job requirements.


The executive resume must—with a future-oriented flavor—emphasize results, outcomes, and career-defining performance indicators. Using numbers, context, and meaningful metrics (for example, previous years’ performance, competitors, counterparts, forecasts/projections/quotas, industry trends), the resume must paint a picture of the executive in action—meeting needs/challenges, solving problems, impacting the company’s big picture, growing the business, enhancing revenue, and driving profits. This section also reveals how to mine and brainstorm accomplishments and demonstrate sought-after ethics and integrity.

Concrete, measurable accomplishments are the points that really help sell you to an employer—much more

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